Saudi daily COVID-19 case count back above 1,000 for first time in 9 months

Saudi daily COVID-19 case  count back above 1,000  for first time in 9 months
Saudi Arabia announced 13 deaths from COVID-19 and 1,213 new infections on Wednesday. (File/SPA)
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Updated 20 May 2021

Saudi daily COVID-19 case count back above 1,000 for first time in 9 months

Saudi daily COVID-19 case  count back above 1,000  for first time in 9 months
  • More than 12.1 million doses of coronavirus vaccine have been administered so far

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia’s daily coronavirus disease (COVID-19) case count has again risen above the 1,000 mark, just one week after the Kingdom and Muslim world celebrated Eid.

On Wednesday, 1,213 new cases of COVID-19 were reported, the same number as recorded in the country on Aug. 20 last year.

And for the first time in almost nine months, four regions logged more than 100 cases. Makkah region reported 349 new infections, Riyadh 334, Eastern Province 148, and Madinah 104. Jouf was the only region in single figures, with seven.

A total of 436,239 people in Saudi Arabia have now contracted COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic.

Wednesday’s statistics took the number of active cases in the Kingdom to 8,367. In some good news, there were 12 fewer patients in critical care but Saudi health authorities were still concerned as 1,372 individuals remained in serious or critical condition.

Officials confirmed 910 more people had recovered from COVID-19, raising the total recovery count for the country to 420,671. Data showed the Kingdom’s recovery rate had fallen to 96.2 percent.

Thirteen COVID-19-related deaths were recorded on Wednesday, upping the national toll to 7,201.

Meanwhile, 88,859 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests were conducted in the last 24 hours, raising the total number of PCR checks so far carried out in the Kingdom to more than 18.1 million.

On the vaccine front, the Ministry of Health’s Sehhaty app confirmed (through its Twitter account) that only those over the age of 18 were eligible to receive a jab.

To date, more than 12.1 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered meaning almost 35 percent of the Kingdom’s 34.8 million population had received at least one injection.

Authorities in the Kingdom reiterated that gatherings of more than 20 nonfamily members were still prohibited and that if caught, violators of the rules would face fines.

In Jazan, 121 women were recently fined for meeting at a wedding hall in breach of preventive measures. Jazan regional police spokesman, Maj. Naif Abdulrahman Hakami, said penalties were also applied to the hall’s owner, the event’s host, and guests.


Saudi authorities arrest 5 people in Jeddah for smuggling amphetamine, other illegal pills

Saudi authorities arrest 5 people in Jeddah for smuggling amphetamine, other illegal pills
Updated 21 min 42 sec ago

Saudi authorities arrest 5 people in Jeddah for smuggling amphetamine, other illegal pills

Saudi authorities arrest 5 people in Jeddah for smuggling amphetamine, other illegal pills

RIYADH: Authorities arrested five people for attempting to distribute a large quantity of amphetamine pills and other tablets in western Saudi Arabia.
Maj. Mohammed Al-Nujaidi, spokesman of the General Directorate of Narcotics Control, said the arrests occurred during security monitoring of smuggling and drug promotion networks targeting the security of the Kingdom.
Al-Nujaidi said authorities arrested four citizens and a Somai national violating the border security system, and seized 829 amphetamine tablets, other illegal pills and tablets subject to medical regulation, after they appeared in a video clip riding in vehicles without license plates in a neighborhood in Jeddah.
He add that initial legal measures have been taken against the two citizens, and they have been referred them to the Public Prosecution.


Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister discusses relations with Iraqi, Cypriot counterparts

Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister discusses relations with Iraqi, Cypriot counterparts
Updated 46 min 35 sec ago

Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister discusses relations with Iraqi, Cypriot counterparts

Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister discusses relations with Iraqi, Cypriot counterparts
  • Prince Faisal reviewed ways to develop Saudi-Iraqi ties
  • He congratulated his Cypriot counterpart on assuming his duties as foreign minister

RIYADH: Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan made a phone call to his Iraqi counterpart Fuad Hussein to discuss aspects of Saudi-Iraqi relations, the Kingdom’s foreign ministry said on Thursday.
During the call, they also discussed ways to support and enhance ties to serve the interests of the two countries, and strengthening joint bilateral coordination to protect regional stability and preserve international peace and security.
They also exchanged views on many regional and international developments, the ministry said.
Meanwhile, Prince Faisal received a phone call from his Cypriot counterpart Ioannis Kasoulides, where he congratulated him on assuming his duties as foreign minister and said he looked forward to working with him in strengthening relations between the two countries.
Kasoulides said his country condemned the repapeted cross-border attacks carried out by Yemen’s Houthi militia against the Kingdom’s territory.
During the call, the two ministers discussed bilateral relations and efforts to enhance cooperation and coordination in various fields, as well as regional and international issues of common interest. 


King Abdulaziz Royal Reserve gets 100,000 new trees

King Abdulaziz Royal Reserve gets 100,000 new trees
Updated 27 January 2022

King Abdulaziz Royal Reserve gets 100,000 new trees

King Abdulaziz Royal Reserve gets 100,000 new trees
  • Afforestation project at Rawdat Tinhat oasis is part of a goal to plant 5 million seedlings by 2025
  • Reserve was established in 2018 to preserve vulnerable and endangered plant and animal species

RIYADH: A major afforestation project is underway in Rawdat Tinhat, with 100,000 trees planted in the first phase alone.

The scheme is being handled by the Cooperative Society of Moringa and Desert Plants after being approved by the National Center for Vegetation Development and Combating Desertification and the King Abdulaziz Royal Reserve.

The reserve’s CEO Maher Al-Gothmi told Arab News that the aim was to plant 5 million trees by 2025.

Rawdat Tinhat is one of the largest green oases in the Arabian Peninsula into which several valleys flow. Located about 180 km north of Riyadh, within the royal reserve, it is home to many tree and plant species, including acacias and daisies.

The afforestation project is one of several agreed by the center with environmental associations to plant trees and shrubs in parks, valleys and other areas in the Riyadh, Qassim and Hail regions.

The projects reflect the center’s efforts to support nonprofit organizations and community partnerships, and align with its aim to increase green areas and reduce desertification, leading to sustainable development and improving quality of life as part of the Saudi Green Initiative.

The reserve is working with the Special Forces for Environmental Security and other groups to plant 500,000 seedlings in seven stages that will be irrigated using the water harvesting method. The 100,000 seedlings planted in the first phase included ghaf, talh, al-rimth and al-arfaj.

The royal reserve was established in 2018 to preserve vulnerable and endangered plant and animal species, and provide access to the environment and natural resources. It encompasses Al-Tanhat, Al-Khafs and Noura parks, as well as parts of the Al-Summan plateau and the Al-Dahna desert, and covers about 28,000 sq. km.

Al-Gothmi said the reserve was working to increase vegetation cover and reduce desertification through various initiatives, including the use of drones to disperse 300,000 seeds of the wild sidr plant as part of the “Let’s make it green” campaign.

Ibrahim Arif, an environmental expert and former professor of forest sciences at King Saud University, said that one of the most important factors in the afforestation process was maintenance.

As well as having a specialist team to undertake the planting work it was vital to implement a maintenance program to ensure the success of the afforestation process, he said.

A successful afforestation project was an investment that could provide not only a food source for wild animals, but also opportunities for beekeeping and other activities of economic value, he added.

Arif emphasized the importance of planting seedlings, rather than more developed trees, as they had more time to adapt to their new environment and could cope better with temperature changes.


Fire breaks out at industrial zone in Riyadh

Fire breaks out at industrial zone in Riyadh
Updated 27 January 2022

Fire breaks out at industrial zone in Riyadh

Fire breaks out at industrial zone in Riyadh
  • Firefighters are working to extinguish the flames

RIYADH: A fire has broken out in warehouses at an industrial zone in Riyadh, Saudi Civil Defense said on Thursday.

Firefighters are working to extinguish the flames, it added in a tweet.


Saudi Arabia announces ‘Founding Day’ as official holiday on Feb. 22

Saudi Arabia announces ‘Founding Day’ as official holiday on Feb. 22
Updated 27 January 2022

Saudi Arabia announces ‘Founding Day’ as official holiday on Feb. 22

Saudi Arabia announces ‘Founding Day’ as official holiday on Feb. 22
  • According to the royal decree, this will enable the public to celebrate Muhammad bin Saud’s successors.

RIYADH: King Salman on Thursday issued a royal order announcing that Feb. 22 will henceforth be known as Founding Day.

The new annual national holiday, which will be celebrated for the first time next month, has been created to recognize the foundation of the First Saudi State in 1727 by Imam Mohammed ibn Saud.

Ancestors of the Saudi royal family first settled alongside Wadi Hanifah in the 15th century, founding the city of Diriyah in 1446.

But it was the determination of Imam Mohammed in 1727 to transform the city state into a nation state, bringing peace and unity to the wider Arabian Peninsula, that two centuries later culminated in the foundation of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia by King Abdulaziz in 1932.

The significance of the year 1727 in the story of Saudi Arabia has become ever more apparent in the light of extensive research carried out by historians and archaeologists.

In 2010, such work led to the At-Turaif district of Diriyah, birthplace of the nation, being inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List as a site of “outstanding universal value.”

Since then, research has continued under the auspices of King Abdulaziz Foundation for Reserach and Archives and the Diriyah Gate Development Authority (DGDA), which in 2017 began transforming Diriyah into a global heritage and cultural destination, with the historic site of At-Turaif at its heart.

“Many historians have neglected the initial period of Imam Mohammed ibn Saud’s rule and the preceding era, even though this was the foundational period of the state,” said Dr. Badran Al-Honaihen, associate director of historical research and studies at DGDA.

In 1446, Manaa' Al-Muraide, leader of the Marada clan of the Al-Duru tribe of the Banu Hanifah, led his people inland from their home near Qatif on the Gulf coast at the invitation of his cousin, Ibn Dir, the ruler of Hajr — modern-day Riyadh.

Wadi Hanifah, where they settled and where the city of Diriyah would later rise, was named after the Banu Hanifah.

Dr. Badran said Al-Muraide’s arrival “laid the building blocks for the establishment of the greatest state in the history of the Arabian Peninsula, after the Prophetic State and the Rashidun Caliphate.”

But another 300 years would pass before, in 1720, Saud ibn Mohammed assumed the leadership of Diriyah. In the process, he founded the House of Saud, but historians date the origin of the First Saudi State to 1727, when Saud’s son, Mohammed, became ruler of the city state.

His achievement, according to Dr. Badran, was even more remarkable because “he assumed power in exceptional circumstances.” Diriyah had been riven by internal divisions and plague had claimed many lives in the Najd. Nevertheless, “Imam Mohammed was able to unite Diriyah under his rule and to contribute to the spread of stability in the region,” he said.

Founding Day, Dr. Badran added, was not an alternative to National Day, which is celebrated every Sept. 23, but complementary to it.

“Founding Day is not intended to replace Saudi National Day, which celebrates the unification of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 1932, but rather to recognize the beginning of the Saudi state’s history with a new event that celebrates the deep historical roots of the Kingdom.”